Retail’s BIG Show turns 100 next week and NRF is pulling out all the stops for this centennial celebration. This year’s theme “how far we’ve come, how far you’ll go” not only applies to the retail industry but also the show. I’ve attended nearly 30 of the last 100 conventions and can speak with authority on just how far this event has come.
It was a man’s world in the early 80s with the bulk of our speakers being male executives, but today, women make up a large portion of our attendees as well as some of our best speakers, panelists, and exhibitors. And we’ve had some memorable ones over the years – Tory Burch, Hillary Clinton, Mindy Grossman, and Kay Krill just to name a few from recent memory.
Thirty years ago, this event was split between two hotels – one hosting the education and the other the exhibits. The Exhibit Hall wasn’t a hall at all – it was four floors of hotel rooms, corridors and any place we could tuck an exhibit.
Today, we take over the Jacob Javits Convention Center where the EXPO is an enormous 170,000 square foot hall, with more than 25 rows of solutions and 19 downtown hotels. And, the technologies! How times have changed! At my first convention, barcodes and POS systems were the epitome of cutting edge: today, it’s mobile, GPS, green solutions and how to reach, engage and retain the elusive new customer 24/7.
While our educational topics and themes have varied over the years, the caliber of speaker has never been in question. Industry leaders, visionaries, and respected practitioners of the trade all have found an audience and shared their voice at Retail’s BIG Show. This year will be no different.
The drinks have changed and the business cards are now electronic, but networking at Retail’s BIG Show is an unparalleled opportunity to meet the industry’s movers and shakers. And, not just from the U.S. – our attendees hail from more than 62 countries, and they are coming to NRF in growing numbers.
Thirty years ago we peppered potential attendees with postcards and letters and faxes and now YOU find us on Facebook, follow our Tweets, subscribe to our blog, and join NRF LinkedIn accounts. We still send you “snail mail” about the BIG Show but it joins email and video and a laundry list of other engagement activities.
I know I’m not the only one who belongs to this elite fraternity of chronic BIG Show attendees. There are plenty of execs from Crate&Barrel, Gap, Macy’s, Neiman Marcus, PetSmart, Saks, Sears, and Ralph Lauren, just to name a few who’ve been making that January trek to New York year after year. And, I’m looking forward to seeing them once again in January. I hope to see you there as well. So, stop by the NRF Foundation area and say hello.